Sunday, May 28, 2017

Travel Photo: At a Noro House in Itoman

Rituals at a priestess home in Okinawa

Noro: An Okinawan Priestess

This image comes from my files dated June 2013 and, was just processed today.

Things have a habit of sneaking up on me this time of year. I get extremely busy.

The event above, happens at the conclusion of the Itoman Hare or Dragon Boat Races.

For some reason, the races are taking place early than usual and, I won't be attending.

My calendar, has already been filled, going into the month of July.

The Itoman Hare happens to kickoff at 0900 tomorrow !

Historically, these dragon boat races, signal the end of Okinawa's rainy season.

To see more about these rituals, have a look at some previous posts:

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Some Angels Helped with this One

Good Travels Advisor, certificate

What's Good Travels ?

A simple definition: Volunteering while out travelling the world.

It could involve, working on a farm, helping fisherman or, teaching little kids.

Sometimes, it's things like disaster assistance or relief, after a bad storm or earthquake.

Beach cleanups, neighborhood beautification projects, the list could go on and on.

They say, back in the USA about a quarter of the population, does some kind of volunteering.

And, millennials (aged 18-34) are the most generous generation, with their time and money.

Heck, I know lots of people in that generation so, I decided to get myself a certification.

The Travel Agent Academy Made Me Do It  

In order to gain this certification, which cost a few bucks, I had to call for some help.

The course was only offered to agents in North America.  Well, I'm a North American.

The angel's names, won't be published, for (um) privacy reasons.

A couple of them, flew me and my office, over to a place called Sleepy Hollow.

Off I went and arrived in New York State and hurried to finish all the testing.

I had to get back to Okinawa, before sundown and, print my diploma.

Probably, tomorrow morning, I'll go change my address and phone number.  Maybe.

Now that I'm certified, I'll start building a list, for those who'd like to volunteer locally.

Here's a few links, to places some folks may want to checkout:

As more information on volunteerism becomes available, new sites will be added.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Doing Hawaiian Island Tests in Okinawa

Hawaii Destination Specialist Certificate

Still in Okinawa

Last week I took some gruelling tests, to get certified in Switzerland but, didn't go there. 

There's something special, you may not know about me.

My grandmother and mother were 100% Swiss and I'm half Swiss, too.

They both went to Heaven. Just me and my Swiss Army Knife are here in Okinawa.

Oh, and one of my daughters has been to Switzerland and brought back a brass cowbell. 

I put the gadget on the dog's collar. It's just a miniature thing and, so is the dog.

The Travel Agent Academy, hooked me up with Switzerland Tourism.

They have their own Travel Academy and, I went to it online. It wasn't easy.

The application was the worst part. They grilled me pretty good.

See, I'm not a travel agent. "What are you trying to do, trying to get into our academy?"

The American Travel Agent Academy, sent me there's, what I told them.

Travel professionals, aren't always agents. I do travel photography and writing.

So, I showed them some of my credentials. It felt like I was being looked at by the CIA.

After awhile, they let me in and said, "You can do it."  So, I did.

Once, I passed all the tests, they made me a Switzerland Travel Expert.

There were languages, history, culture, transportation, festival, sports and location exams.

It's beautiful country but, they get snow. I don't really want to go there.

Hawaii poster, Waikiki, travel

Hawaii's a Possibility

This is a place, I been to and, wouldn't mind visiting again.

It snows up in the mountains, there sometimes but, I'd stay at lower elevations.

Years ago, I used to get sent there for conferences, boring conferences.

All these years, I thought I had been going to the Hawaii Island, the big one.

Whenever, we weren't confrontating, I was out in Waikiki celebrating.

Matter of fact, what those conferences were about, slips my mind, at the moment.

Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau

They have their own courses over there and, are hooked up with the Travel Agent Academy.

That's where I've been going for the past few days, from my office in Okinawa.

First, I took the courses, to become a Hawaii Destination Specialist.

What an eyeopener that turned out to be. Hawaii has a bunch of islands.

All the times, I'd been to Hawaii, I was on Oahu, not Hawaii Island. Who'd a thunk ?

Certificate, Hawaii Destination Expert

There's no sense, staying a specialist, when you can become an expert.

So, that's what I've been doing, over the past 48 hours.

Geography, history, culture, language, festivals and transportation of six Hawaiian islands.

Yellow flip-flops are probably, acceptable attire, over there.

So, I might have to go back and, visit one of these days and, bring the bride along.

Do romantic stuff like, horse riding and, shooting live volcanoes with my Pentax.

Honey, don't that sound like fun ?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Word from Google Maps

screen shot of email from Google Maps

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Mr. Miyagi and the Stone Marker in Kunigami

Memorial, Robert Morris Flynn, killed in action, USN, Jun 15 1945

Image on a Clipboard

Today's visit to Kunigami was for the purpose of gaining some information.

Doc Graff and I, have visited Mr. Miyagi a few times before and, he's very friendly.

Searching for a book concerning King Sho-en, I wasn't having much luck.

Miyagi, used to be in an office, next to the library. He's a historian.

We asked if, the gal working there, could give him a call and, she seemed puzzled.

There are many people, with the name Miyagi, in  northern Okinawa.

I told her, we're looking for the Miyagi, who's kinda ancient, like me, she knew, who I meant.

She placed a call and, started to turn on the air conditioning, for us, while we waited.

"Nah, we don't need AC, we'll go outside and do some smoking." I told her.

Miyagi, showed up, smiling and waving, from half a block away.

Inside the library, he understood, exactly what I was searching for and, hurried back home.

He showed up with an old book, he had highlighted pages on and, got to work.

Miyagi, got an unmarked copy off the reference shelf and, had copies of pages, made for me.

When I tried to pay for the pages, the gal told me, they are free. Yay !

Thanking Mr. Miagi and the girl in the office, we were ready to go down the highway.

But, Miyagi had a request. "Could we translate something from English to Japanese?"

Heck yeah. The guy always helps us. So, he ran back to his house again.

We found a spot in the shade and, did some more smoking. Miyagi was back in minutes.

He had a color photo attached to a clipboard. I took an iPhone camera snap of it.

We got the translation done and, Miyagi scribbled it down, under the photo.

He was delighted. He started telling us the story, behind the memorial stone.

Then, asked if, we had a few minutes to spare and, a car, to go see the stone marker.

The three of us headed off, in Doc's automobile and, were there shortly later.

It took awhile, peeking through some bushes, in mosquito and habu land, to find it.

Robert Morris Flynn Memorial Library, stone, marker

Our cameras, were left behind, in the car.  This is another iPhone photo.

We got out of the bushes and, Mr. Miyagi continued with the story. He was very happy.

He waved his hands and almost danced, with joy, thanking us and giving a history lesson.

He even, had us walk a bit, down into town, to show us where the library, used to be.

Back in 1945, some Imperial Army soldiers, spotted Robert M. Flynn.

He was crouched down, sort of hiding. Two soldiers shot him at close range.

Then, Miyagi motioned, as if swinging a sword. Flynn whacked their heads off.

Then, hopped in a vehicle and escaped from, anyone else encountering him.

He died from his wounds that day. But, Miyagi was glad, the enemy soldiers got killed, too.

He kept hopping around, bowing to us and, practically danced in the street with joy.

He wanted that stone translated and, kept thanking us for our help.

Doc, offered to drive him back to his home and, he just wanted to walk. What a guy !

He's going to have that memorial marker, cleaned up and, put it back, where it came from.

We'll have to return and, join him, when his restoration is complete.

Back at the Office

A little Google Search helped me find some information concerning the stone marker.

screenshot from USN WWII casualty records

There wasn't any more information available in these records. I'll look for more.

Maybe, someone who reads this blog, can come up with something more detailed.

It's a sad story but, something I believe, needs more investigation.

There aren't many people, still alive, who remember the Battle of Okinawa.

And, I think it's important, for both sides, to learn from it and, remember.

Don't you ?